Page:A Compendium of Irish Biography.djvu/557

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TON
TON
 

utmost coolness and bravery. At length the ship struck, after she had become a dismantled wreck, with five feet of water in her hold, and the cockpit full of dead and dying. All the French squadron were ultimately taken, with the exception of two frigates, and the Biche, in which Tone might have escaped. The captive officers were landed and marched to Letterkenny, where the Earl of Cavan invited them to breakfast. It was believed that Tone was among them. Sir George Hill entered the room, followed by some soldiers, recognized Tone, and said: "Mr. Tone, I am very happy to see you." Tone replied with perfect composure: "Sir George, I am happy to see you; how are Lady Hill and your family" On being removed to another room, and finding handcuffs about to be placed on him, he flung off his uniform coat, saying: "These fetters shall never degrade the revered insignia of the free nation which I have served." Resuming his composure, he held out his hands, and added: "For the cause which I have embraced I feel prouder to wear these chains than if I were decorated with the Star and Garter of England." He was taken under an escort of dragoons to Londonderry, and thence to Dublin, where he was placed in the provost prison at the Royal Barracks. On the 10th November a court-martial was called to try him. Tone appeared in his French uniform. He made an eloquent and touching speech—avowed everything, and declared his love for Ireland, and his belief in the necessity of a separation from England—"For it I became an exile; I submitted to poverty; I left the bosom of my family, my wife, my children, and all that rendered life desirable. After an honourable combat, in which I strove to emulate the bravery of my gallant comrades, I was forced to submit, and was dragged in irons through the country, not so much to my disgrace, as to that of the person by whom such ungenerous and unmanly orders were issued." Knowing that conviction was certain and sentence of death inevitable, he pleaded that he should meet a soldier's death — within an hour if it were practicable. The voices of the court were immediately collected and submitted to Lord Cornwallis, who confirmed the verdict of guilty, and directed that he should be hanged within forty-eight hours. This was on Saturday. He wrote to the French Directory, commending his wife and children to their protection and support. He wrote one note on Saturday and another on Sunday to his wife, full of resignation and affection: "The hour is at last come when we must part. As no words can express what I feel for you and our children, I shall not attempt it. Complaint of any kind would be beneath your courage and mine." He advised her to be guided by the counsel of an old friend, Mr. Wilson, a Scotchman. He declined to see his parents. On Sunday night he was informed that the Lord-Lieutenant had refused his last request, as to the manner of his execution, and that he was to be hanged next day. On Monday Curran moved before Chief Justice Kilwarden for a habeas corpus to bring him up for civil trial before the King's Bench, then sitting. This was immediately granted, but the authorities at the barracks refused to surrender him. All efforts to save him were too late, however; for during Sunday night Tone had with a penknife opened an artery in his neck. The morning found him weltering in his blood, but still living. "I find then I am but a bad anatomist," he faintly said to the humane surgeon who was at once called in. On his bed was found a pocket-book, stained with his blood, directed to his old friend John Sweetman, with the inscription " T. W. Tone, Nov. 11, 1798. Tenunchabet ista secundam." Tone lingered in agony for eight days. The end came on the 19th. When Surgeon Lentaigne told him that death would ensue if he stirred, he replied: " I can yet find words to thank you, Sir: it is the most welcome news you could give me: what should I wish to live for? " Falling back, he expired without an effort. He was aged but 34. His body, with his uniform and sword, were considerately given up to his relative William Dunbavin, of 65 High-street. After two days, Government directed an immediate interment, and, attended only by two friends, both opposed to Tone in politics and members of yeomanry corps, his remains were buried with those of his ancestors, in the ancient cemetery of Bodenstown, near Sallins. (The stone erected by Thomas Davis and other admirers in 1843 was soon chipped away for relics. Its place has lately been taken by a more substantial memorial, surmounted by ironwork.) Goldwin Smith, when Professor of History at Oxford, said of Tone: "Though his name is Uttle known amongst Englishmen, he, … brave, adventurous, sanguine, fertile in resource, buoyant under misfortune, warm-hearted, … was near being almost as fatal an enemy to England as Hannibal was to Rome." Mrs. Tone, on hearing of her husband's capture, made immediate preparations for

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